The F.H.A.’s mixed-use change is part of a broader shift in condo policy. In September, the agency increased the number of units that investors can own in a development to 50 percent from 10 percent, provided that the other half are owner-occupied, and it relaxed personal liability rules related to condo association boards and officers.Developers and others say that in addition to strengthening home sales, the changes represent a vote of confidence in the creation of sustainable, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods, which are more likely to have projects that incorporate mixed-use buildings.The trend toward such development has grown in recent years, as younger and older people alike have migrated to urban centers to be close to jobs, cultural amenities and entertainment, said Peter D. Cummings, chairman of Ram, a Florida-based mixed-use developer focused on the Southeast and Michigan.That “back to the city” movement is now spilling into the suburbs, said John K. McIlwain, senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research organization.“We’ve learned that this mixing of development makes for a better urban design, so towns and cities are designing codes to encourage it, and the market is showing interest,” he said. “We’re going to see a lot more mixed use, whether it’s in the urban central city or suburban town centers.”The F.H.A.’s mixed-use rules date to its inception and the growth of federal housing initiatives, according to the Chicago-based Congress for the New Urbanism, which promotes pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use neighborhoods. The rules stemmed from fears that one component of a mixed-use development could fail and place strain on others to maintain the property, a concern revived by the housing crash in 2007.“We understand that risk has to be assessed somehow, but associating it with commercial is just not the right way to do it,” said Ben Schulman, a spokesman for the Congress for the New Urbanism, which led the push for the rule changes.
Mixed-Use Developments Get Regulatory Break From F.H.A. – NYTimes.com